The Latest: Italian official calls for European anti-terror prosecutor

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

The latest on the attacks in Paris and security alert in Brussels. All times local:

4:05 p.m.

Italy's national anti-terrorism prosecutor says there's need for a European prosecutor who can direct investigations into where violent extremists get their financing.

Franco Robert, in a speech Wednesday in Italy, said "it's not possible that a country can do everything by itself in the fight against terrorism."

He added: "To combat terrorism, we need tighter cooperation and harmonization of international laws."

Roberti said a European ant-terror prosecutor could coordinate efforts to "fight money-laundering and fiscal paradises because it's there where the problem lurks."

Roberti, who is also Italy's anti-Mafia prosecutor, has used a strategy of going after Italian organized crime's wealth as a way to weaken it.


3:50 p.m.

France's government is offering aid for restaurants, stores and cultural sites suffering a financial hit after the deadly Nov. 13 attacks, which one report said could cost the already stagnant French economy up to 2 billion euros ($2.12 billion).

Businesses suffering from a post-attacks slump can get extensions on tax and loan payments, the government announced after a Cabinet meeting Wednesday.

The government will create a special fund for theaters, and is also concerned about restaurants, small retailers, department stores, hotels and other tourist sites.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday he couldn't confirm an RTL radio report that the state treasury estimates the cost of the attacks at 2 billion euros, though he said it "might" be right.

France is among the world's top tourist destinations. Several museums closed in the days after the attacks, which killed 130 people.


12:45 p.m.

Belgian government minister says that the security forces staged a series of raids late Sunday to avoid an imminent attack in Brussels.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that "indeed, there were indications that there would be attacks on Sunday evening and they did not materialize."

The minister told VRT network that "otherwise, you don't impose terror level 4," the highest possible level when the threat is assessed as "serious and imminent."

That Sunday, authorities detained 16 people but released all but one the next day. The raids yielded no explosives or firearms and the Paris fugitive Salah Abdeslam remained at large.

Jambon refused to elaborate what kind of attacks the government believed had been planned.


11:45 a.m.

The Belgian government has ordered health and emergency services in Belgium to take special precautionary measures to make sure their services are not infiltrated by violent extremists.

Health Minister Maggie De Block told VRT network that "we have to be sure that we can see everybody has an identification badge."

She says, "When ambulances arrive, we have to see from where they come, who is in it. Really as a precaution."


11:40 a.m.

An influential European Union lawmaker has dismissed criticism that the EU parliament is holding up agreement on airline passenger information which could help prevent attacks in Europe.

It has been held up in the assembly for at least two years over privacy concerns.

Liberal ALDE lawmaker Sophie In't Veld said on Wednesday that the parliament is committed "but commitment does not mean a blank check."

She lamented Europe's "near obsession with electronic mass surveillance," and said that more human intelligence is needed on the ground.

French and Belgian officials say the deal to share data including name, travel itinerary and credit card details would help trace foreign fighters traveling to and from Syria and Iraq.

EU member states want the so-called passenger name record agreement to be adopted next month.


10:20 a.m.

France is deploying additional police and troops to guard about 140 world leaders expected in the Paris region for critical talks on fighting global warming.

The country remains on high alert for possible terrorist attacks after Islamic extremists killed at least 130 people in a rock concert massacre, shootings at Paris cafes and suicide bombings at the national stadium Nov. 13.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday that France will impose tight road traffic restrictions for the climate conference and maintain controls on its borders, which are normally open to other European countries.

Cazeneuve said the border checks would remain in place as long as the threat level remains high.

He said 120,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers are deployed across the country to assure France's security.

President Barack Obama is among the many leaders expected to arrive starting this weekend for the U.N. climate talks that start Monday.


9:50 a.m.

The brother of a fugitive Paris attack suspect is urging him to surrender to police immediately.

Mohamed Abdeslam said on RTL radio Wednesday that he shares the pain of victims' families and wishes he and his family could have done something to prevent the bloodshed across Paris Nov. 13.

Abdeslam had two brothers involved in the attacks. Brahim Abdeslam blew himself up in front of a Paris cafe, and Salah Abdeslam is believed to have been another potential bomber but escaped the scene. An international warrant is out for his arrest.

"Let him turn himself in for his parents, for justice, for the families of victims, so that we can find out what happened," Mohamed Abdeslam said.

He said he saw his brothers a few days before they left their Brussels suburb for Paris, but had no idea what they were plotting, and hasn't heard from Salah since


9:35 a.m.

As schools reopened in Brussels, dozens of parents hugged and kissed their children before dropping them off at the College Saint-Jean-Bermans. Many were reassured by the police presence — including at least one officer with a visible machine gun — as the threat alert in the city remains at its highest.

Annelaure Leger, mother of two children, said "I'm not very concerned because if (the government) lets children go to school again, then things must be OK."

She said the closure of schools in Brussels during the previous two days was like an early Christmas for her children. Leger said that since her family lives partly in Paris, the children are very aware of what's happening and that she told them "the police are trying to catch a terrorist so everyone will be safe."


9:30 a.m.

A top European Union official has urged EU leaders to rescue of Europe's passport free area as it comes under threat from extremist attacks and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Visa-free travel in the 30-nation area known as the Schengen zone has been compromised by border closures, increased security and the building of fences in recent months.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU lawmakers on Wednesday that "we need those who believe in Europe, in its values, in its principles, and in its freedoms try to reanimate the spirit of Schengen."

Juncker said that "a single currency will have no sense if Schengen falls."

He insisted that extremists and refugees must not be confused, saying that many migrants flee the very same people who attacked Paris on Nov. 13.


08:55 a.m.

Students in Brussels have begun returning to class after a two-day shutdown over fears that a series of simultaneous attacks could be launched around the Belgian capital.

Special measures are being taken at primary and secondary schools plus universities, with student movements limited around or outside school buildings during the day.

Underground transport in Brussels is also slowly starting up again after a four-day closure. Sections of the main metro are in operation, but services are not running to outlying suburbs.

Belgian authorities set the city on maximum alert overnight on Friday amid warnings of an imminent security threat. More than 1,000 security personnel and soldiers have been deployed.